Scary. Capable of beating any team in the NFL… and yes, I mean
one of the most horrific teams for delivering under pressure games
that we’ve seen in quite some time. The past few years they just
don’t seem to do well in those games that separate making the
playoffs teams from Super Bowl candidate teams.
first and foremost… they deserve a huge amount of credit. They
are in what can be viewed as a brutal division. Pittsburgh and
Baltimore are tough teams to play… and Cincinnati faces them twice
each season. Cleveland manages to toss in some very competitive
games each year, especially against divisional opponents. That’s
six tough games every year before you get to the ten outside the
AFC North. And what have they done?
of the past six years… playoffs.
the past four -- 2014… 11 wins, wild card. 2013… 11 wins, division
title. 2012… 10 wins, wild card. 2011… 9 wins, wild card. That’s
comparable or better than any other team in their division during
the regular season.
again… there comes a point when regular season success needs to
be finished upon with playoff success. And when faced with big
game moments, the Bengals don’t seem to deliver in the playoffs…
or even in memorable regular season games outside the division.
Here’s what I mean.
year New England got pasted by Kansas City, and had Cincinnati
coming up next. The Bengals were coming off their bye week, and
entered the game with a 3-0 record. Two weeks to prepare and the
Pats looking awful. Result? The Patriots didn’t beat the Bengals…
they didn’t destroy the Bengals… they humiliated the
reacted to that loss by following it with a tie against Carolina,
two close wins, and disasters in losing to Indianapolis and Cleveland.
In short, they looked dazed. (Not the first team to struggle to
recover from a New England throttling. Check out my thoughts on
Seattle this season. Still… good example of the Bengals with a
chance to step up.)
Bengals will be fine during the season… look good right now to
take the division crown, and I think they have a very real chance
to be one of the top two AFC seeds. Watch the games against Seattle,
Denver, and Arizona for general takes on how they’re doing (AFC
North games can be notoriously difficult to predict)… but until
the playoffs, there is just no way to know.
Steelers team that is 2-2 right now is going to be much different
than the one we see in December and January. In fact, I think
the Steelers are the most likely team in the AFC to select if
there is a team to beat the Patriots in the playoffs.
defense should improve tremendously as the year goes on. And the
offense should improve once it gets all of the major players onto
the field and healthy.
now though… 2-2 is fine, but impossible to review.
wrong, and I’m not sure what.
is huge. The team on the field each week is not the team… not
even 75% of the team… we expected to see if asked early in the
summer. Roster turnover is definitely part of it.
I can’t help but feeling there is a bit of a Patriots hangover
present here as well. They lost a rough game against New England
last year in the playoffs. The offseason featured all sorts of
shots being directed their way, and they spent time returning
fire. They’ve also played a ton of postseason games in recent
years. It all takes a toll.
not high on the Ravens. Not 100% sure why. But I just don’t see
them challenging the Bengals and Steelers, and the schedule features
tough games from the AFC and NFC West divisions. I don’t think
we’ll see much of them in January.
general, I’d like to make a joke about some of the movies coming
out in November and December. You know, something that says Cleveland
fans should be preparing for the return of Leia, Luke and Han.
honestly… it isn’t going to be a pretty season. The Browns aren’t
good enough to challenge for the playoffs, and they still have
way too much to do to their roster for the future.
yet… they always seem to be a thorn for divisional opponents,
and there are plenty of circus-like things taking place to watch.
For example… Johnny Manziel… competent quarterback that deserves
a shot to start over several weeks without looking over his shoulder,
or, future reality television cast member that should really get
started on this new career as soon as possible? Watch the show!